History and Architecture of the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Žemaičių Naumiestis

Dalia Vasiliūnienė

The Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Žemaičių Naumiestis is one of few survived wooden churches built in the second half of the 18th century in Lithuania. The privilege granted by the King Stanisław August to the Kvėdarna Neighbourhood including the town of Naumiestis in 1766 came to Michał Aleksander Ronikier, a deputy sub-cupbearer in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, who built a church on a high hill in 1781 and provided it with the parish rights. The 19th c. documents enable to affirm that the plan of the church and its key architecture elements have not changed from the very start of its construction; during the repair works they were only renewed with other details, however, the churchyard experienced major changes. The interior outfit was replaced by new one in the second half of the 19th century. This church in Žemaičių Naumiestis built in the fourth quarter of the 18th century retained the architecture characteristic of wooden sacral buildings of the baroque style. This is a cross-plan one-nave church with one small tower above the crossing. Its interior space is not divided, the presbytery is of the same width and height as the nave; at the sides of the main body there are two rectangular chapels of the same height as the nave. The spacey organ gallery occupies all width of the nave, but earlier it was narrower and enclosed. The important role for colour solution of the interior was played by rather active polychromy of walls and ceilings created in about 1970. The builders of the church in Žemaičių Naumiestis seem to have been local masters. The elements of different periods are harmoniously matching to each other in this church and many of them are of high artistic quality.